Type of Spiritual Experience
Many of the features found in spiritual landscapes are often recreated in the physical world, or at least an attempt is made to recreate them. In effect an actual garden is a bit like a work of art in that it is an attempt to portray what was seen spiritually.
Many traditional Persian gardens are based on symbolism. The layout and the features incorporated are all carefully chosen to have symbolic meaning with lakes and water [usually rectangular ponds], fountains, trees and plants each with their own symbolic meaning [much use is made of the rose], as well as obelisks or ‘mountain’ equivalents.
Most gardens also feature a ‘palace’, which in the actual garden has no functional use and is not lived in.
Since the symbolism was then widely understood across cultures, the garden designs of Persia influenced the design of gardens from Andalusia to India and beyond. Furthermore, as the Persian empire spread, so did the garden designs. The gardens of the Alhambra, for example in Spain, the Hellenistic gardens of the Seleucids and the Ptolemies in Alexandria show the influence of Persian Garden philosophy and style. The Taj Mahal is one of the largest Persian Garden interpretations in the world, from the era of the Mughal Empire in India. From the time of the Achaemenid Dynasty, the idea of an earthly paradise spread through Persian literature to other cultures.
A description of the experience
Eram garden - Shiraz
The Taj Mahal has a ‘palace’, four ‘towers’, a number of symbolic trees that line the pond [water] and contains a number of plants which also have symbolic value – again the rose features strongly. There are also several ‘levels’.
The Taj Mahal can be seen as both a ‘palace’ and a ‘mountain’ combined, with its dome symbolic of the ‘egg’.
The Alhambra [left] is built on a ‘mountain’ shaped hill, has water, a palace, fountains and many other symbolic features.
The source of the experienceSufism
Concepts, symbols and science items